My opinion: In the medical industry, as well as many others, there may always be differences in statistical studies. Actually, relatively often, I read articles that refute previous studies entirely, even if those were very well established. Perhaps we may never know which statistical method is the best, but one thing is for sure about this article - I now understand how these calculations are performed, rather than simply understanding the result of them. I think that, as news readers, if we looked more closely at the actual process than just the answers, we would have better opinions of the statistics. Furthermore, it would also be a good idea to look at the definitions. According to this article, the number of predicted people over 65 wouldn't change, but their ability to take care of themselves would. Hence, while the demographic numbers may always have been correct, the affect of the elderly on the economy changes with this study, which is perhaps the most important information to consider. Any other thoughts? Feel free to comment.
Standard aging indicator 'inaccurate'But the researchers say that we should not "assume" increases in population aging will have such a detrimental impact, adding that the standard indicator of the aging population is "inaccurate."
At present, population aging and its impact is estimated using the old age dependency ratio (OADR). This model looks at the number of people who are deemed as "dependent" (aged 65 and over) and those classed as "economically productive" (aged between 20 and 64).
The dependent population is then divided by the economically productive population, and it is estimated how many older people there are relative to the number of younger people who have to pay for them.
Explaining the "inaccuracy" of the OADR model, the researchers say it deems all people aged 65 and over as dependent, not taking into consideration their economic, social or medical circumstances.
They say that this means the model "overlooks" the fact that the increasing life expectancy means older people are now healthier and fitter, compared with older people included in previous cohorts. For example, in 1900, a 65-year-old woman in England and Wales would have an average life expectancy of 11 years, compared with 21 years today, they add.
New calculations reveal 'population is getting younger'Because of these "flaws" the researchers found in the OADR, they decided to calculate the aging population using a new model - the real elderly dependency ratio.
This model uses the sum of men and women with a remaining life expectancy of up to 15 years. This number is then divided by the number of people in employment, regardless of their age.
From this, the study authors found that the number of older people classed as dependent in the UK have reduced by one-third over the past 40 years. Furthermore, they found that old age dependency is likely to stabilize at the current level, and this was the same in many other countries.